1. Keep Rain X or Lip balm in your blind bag.
A little rubbed on the reed and tone board will keep your call from sticking even on the coldest days and will not interfere with the operation.
2. Stay Warm and Stay Longer
Layer clothing and keep the bulk down.
Layering your clothing should be the rule for the fowled up Waterfowler.
Remember, moisture displaces air which is the source of insulation. Materials used when I was younger absorb moisture and became much less effective on the wet clod days I learned to hunt in.
Today we have many providers of top rate layering cloths which keep moisture away from the skin and hold the insulation properties. Keeping these materials close to the skin is the first priority. New light form fitting materials, (like Under Armor) are a great place to start.
A second layer of felt lined pants and shirt is another good choice. This layer should hold heat in.
The next layer should be a good quality outer garment which keeps the cold out.
Now here is a pretty good tip, on extremely cold days, use several heat packets like HEAT or GRABB. Place them in front pant and shirt pockets, and if you have a tight fitting vest under your coat place some in those pockets as well. Another in your coat pockets and you are set to go!
3. When it is cold, remember your best friend.
Keep water consuming shammy in your blind bag for your dog. In about a minute you can take 75% to 85% of the water off your dog on those cold wet days. That small act will help conserve his energy and keep him comfortable. He will hunt longer and harder for you.
4. Keep Hidden or Be Seen!
Ducks have great vision and an incredible 340 degree field of view. This means that a duck can have a sharp view of objects near and far almost completely around them, without turning its’ head. If you are not hidden or are moving the ducks will see you. Most flared birds are not due to decoys or calling, but on hunters who “fowled up” their hide.
5. Talk with not at the Ducks
When the ducks are coming in straight ahead, don’t call. Let them come in.
When the ducks start an erratic wing beat, hit them with a comeback call immediately to bring them back on line. As soon as they respond and get on a straight line to your spread, stop calling.
If they look as if they may drift off-line, use single quacks and feeding call to bring them back on line.
a) Remember, less is more when calling ducks.
b) Try calling at birds as they circle or quarter into the wind. This will make it easier for them to set up for a landing zone into the wind.
c) Call to tails and wings but NOT the beak!
d) Always start high and come down the scale smoothly with no "start-up note."
Use the Drake Mallard whistle on calm days to build confidence.
6. Tip Six Make your decoys shake, rattle, and roll!
Add movement to your decoys and increase commitment from the birds.
Jerk strings or motion decoys are critical for success on windless days hunting over water. Protected bays and flooded timber can even be calm when other areas are being hit by the wind.
When you find you are hunting in these conditions try downsizing your rig to fewer decoys and add a jerk string or spinning wing decoys. Another great tool is the bilge pump duck pump. Look in our video tip section to see how to build one.
7. Tip Seven Use a Goose Call to hail ducks!
Ducks respond well to a goose call and they can hear a goose call from farther away then they can a duck call.
After you get their attention go back to the duck call … but don’t over work them. Remember as soon as you see them targeting your spread, lay off the call unless they change trajectory.
8. Tip Eight Slow down and Enjoy this!
Don’t rush your shots. Regardless of the waterfowl DVDs show you, screaming and yelling and throwing open the blind doors doesn’t help you kill ducks or geese…. It may hurt you. Make a deliberate effort to slow down when mounting your shotgun, tracking your target and squeezing the trigger at just the right moment. Try getting up quietly with as little disturbance as reasonable and taking in a breath before you shot. I believe doing so WILL help you kill more waterfowl.
9. Escort the geese to your kill hole.
Use magnum Canada “Looker” decoys as a way to funnel the geese in where you want them.
Geese coming into a spread will shy away from three to six “Sentry” decoys and mover more to the feeding resting birds.
10. Tip Ten – Hold the high ground.
When hunting a cut grain field for ducks and geese, locate your decoys at the highest point in the field – a knoll, or rise in elevation. Your decoys will be more visible to the birds and they feel more comfortable with the greater view the hill provides. Place your blind on the down side shadowed side of the hill as that will offer more concealment.
11. Lighting the Spread
Here is a great tip for setting up your field decoys in the dark.
If you are like me you have probably had the experience of setting decoys up in the dark thinking they were perfect only to realize when the sun in coming up that they are much closer then you intended. Here is a good way to minimize that from happening.
Get a few of the light sticks you see kids using on Halloween and at concerts. After you establish where your blinds are going to be located step off thirty-five yards to each side on the blinds and put a glow stick down, then add one to the center of the blinds. That way as the decoys are being distributed a common reference to the shooting hole and the blinds can be maintained by you and all your hunting buddies.It can also save you some time and potential embarrassment after parking the truck and making a long hike back to the spread (or at least where you thought the spread was) on those early dark mornings.